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Home Cooking - Rachel Allen: Yummy, comforting food for any budding home cook
Home Cooking - Rachel Allen
Member Name: loulabelle17
Home Cooking - Rachel Allen
Date: 25/01/10, updated on 27/01/10 (902 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to follow cookery book with recipes that work and are delicious
Disadvantages: The girly look of the book may put some off
I already own two of Rachel Allen's books and have watched several of her televisions series. I was hoping to receive her latest book Home Cooking for Christmas and having received it I can happily say I am glad I did. There often seems to be a mixed opinion of Rachel herself. Some love her happy homely approach. Others find this annoying and possibly a bit twee.
Home Cooking is her biggest book to date containing 351 pages and like her previous books it ties in with the television serious by the same name (currently been shown on Saturday mornings, 11.35 a.m., BBC1). The television series only features a couple of recipes per episode though, just giving a small taster. There are lots more recipes to be found in the book.
The book is a hardback, without a sleeve and its opening pages include an introduction to the book from Rachel herself. In keeping with her previous books Home Cooking is very girly and pretty looking outside and in, with the use of lots of pastel pinks, blues and greens. There are also a few pictures of Rachel and her family within the book. Obviously this may appeal to some but not to others. There is a handy ribbon book mark attached to the book, so you can keep the page you are on easily.
The book is comprised of eight sections (I've include a few of the recipes from each section, just to give an idea what's in them)
Breakfast - Buttermilk pancakes, Rhubarb muffins, Potato and onion frittata with gruyère and thyme and Kedgeree.
Lunch -Mushroom soup with stuffed mushrooms, Molly Malone's cockle and mussel chowder, Pork and egg picnic pie and fish cakes.
Sunday Lunch - Roast chicken with stuffing, sticky cumin and apricot roast carrots and parsnips, Cheese and garlic potato gratin and Smoked salmon, leek and potato pie.
Supper -Spaghetti with herby pork meatballs, Shepherds pie, Quick Swiss cheese fondue and Crispy prawns with Chinese noodle stir fry.
Dessert - Baked raspberry and ricotta cheesecake, Strawberry and white chocolate tiramisu and Fluffy lemon pudding.
Snacks, treats and sweets - Potato cakes, Thai sticky chicken and Coconut and chocolate flapjacks (it also contains several recipes for sweets such as marshmallows and fudge).
Baby purées - Banana and mango, Chicken sweetcorn and butternut squash (purées for babies aged 6 months, 9 months and 12 months).
Basics - Stocks such as Chicken, Beef and Vegetable. Sauces such as Hollandaise and Horseradish and White and Soda Breads.
The pages feel substantial and nicely laid out, with clear text that is easy to read and easy follow. Each recipe has a clear bold title. Underneath the title it states how many people the recipe serves. If the recipe is suitable for vegetarians it says so. Really there is no other dietary information provided aside from a couple of pages dedicated to healthy eating habits. There is also no nutritional information. There are a good number of mouthwatering pictures simply laid out. So you can clearly see how the recipe is meant to turn out. Not every recipe is accompanied by a picture though. This may prove difficult if you like to see how the dish should look at the end. After some of the recipes there are helpful tips or variations of the recipe which I have found handy. There are also a couple of small sections providing information on menu planning and home freezing.
I have made a priority list of recipes I want to try from the book and am steadily working my way through them. The recipes seem to use readily available ingredients, so getting ingredients hasn't been a problem and not particular costly either. I'm always put off cookery books that require expensive ingredients. So far, everything I've made from the book has turned out to be delicious. As I'm vegetarian, taste wise I can only vouch for the recipes I've tasted that are suitable for veggies. I have cooked some of the meat and fish dishes for my family and they have really enjoyed them. The recipes I've tried so far include:
Spotted dog (known as railway cake in some parts of Ireland) - a lovely rich soda bread with dried fruit. This was very quick and easy to make, needing only a few ingredients. It was delicious for breakfast eaten warm from the oven slathered in butter.
Pecan and vegetable loaf - a yummy nut roast I served with mash, great for veggies who like nuts. I found the bonus of this recipe being the meat eaters in my family also enjoyed it.
Chicken casserole with cheesy herb dumplings - the picture of this casserole in the book prompted me to make this. I was really pleased as mine turned out similar to the picture (which in my case doesn't always happen).
Fish pie - you can use whatever fish is in season. Also, the pie can be prepared the day before you want to eat it then chilled in the fridge overnight before cooking the next day. I found this great for doing when I was expecting guests for dinner the following evening.
Steamed ginger and treacle pudding - a gorgeous syrupy, toffee like pud great for a treat. I found the hard part was whether to have it with custard or vanilla ice cream.
I like the collection of recipes as I find there is plenty to choose from for meals during the week. When time is often limited but I still want to make a tasty meal. Then there are some recipes that require a bit more planning and time, which are great if I've got some spare time at the weekend. I also found the collection of recipes diverse enough for me. Ok, they are not particularly experimental as favoured by other celebrity chefs but some are definitely influenced by different cuisines such as Mediterranean and Chinese. Which I feel is a good thing. Having said that, there are a couple of recipes in the book I could have done without - porridge, a boiled egg with soldiers (I seem to remember Delia being criticised when she told us how to boil an egg) and a weekend fry up. The latter being more a collection of ingredients as opposed to a recipe. I guess the inclusion of these recipes might be helpful to complete beginners in the kitchen though. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. I feel it would be suited to anyone who has a grasp of basic cooking but is keen to branch out and try some new things that are not experimental or too complicated.
Home Cooking is published by Collins and has an RRP of £25. Though Amazon currently (January 2010) have a great deal on it, selling it at £10 with free super saver delivery. Its ISBN is 978-0007259717.
Thanks for reading.
Summary: Great straightforward recipes you can use time again.
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